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back to article Boy died after satnav fault delays ambulance

A child died after a faulty satnav caused an ambulance to arrive late, a coroner heard last week. Nine-year-old Corey Seymour suffered heart failure last September following an asthma attack at home. An ambulance took 24 minutes to arrive, despite an eight-minute target response time. West Midlands Ambulance Service has since …

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Anonymous Coward

Non story

How many people (let's even throw children in to raise the shock value) have died over the decades when drivers were relying on maps?

I note nothing in the story appears to indicate either if the ambulance got there after the kid died, or that the delay caused the death.

I see only a mother looking for someone, or something, to blame.

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Silver badge

Re: Non story

On the news next week:

Satnavs made legally compulsory on all emergency service vehicles at great expense (plus backhanders) to "reassure the public" and "provide a better service".

Seriously - think what would have happened WITHOUT satnav to so many people over the last decade or so. It still doesn't mean it should be compulsory, or that they should totally ignore GPS technology. But a failure of a technology like that is not something you can predict or reasonably guard against.

The ambulance got there. Slightly delayed, but it got there. I bet the driver was cursing the satnav just as much as the mother. But, as the article points out, there were ALREADY trained, qualified, emergency-response, medical people on the scene. The ambulance coming or not at that exact moment is unlikely to be the major factor in any death and, if it was, similarly risking would be a traffic jam, or a puncture, or an engine failure, or the driver fainting, or, or, or...

I can understand the mother being upset about it, but I don't think it deserves the press it's got. What next? A ten-billion-pound constant treatment could have given my son one minute longer alive, so we have to make it compulsory in every doctor's surgery and have backup units standing by at all times? No.

The ambulance crew did their job and got to the place. Maybe not as fast as was theoretically possible, but for sure as damn fast as they were able to, through no fault of their own (or that of the ambulance service). I imagine the press is killing *the crew* right now, more than anyone else.

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Terminator

Re: Non story

It would have been a story if it were posted under RoTM.

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Thumb Up

Re: Non story

Anyone remember the TV series "Back to the Floor"? One episode featured Adrian Lucas, Chief Executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service.

He noticed that, unlike his company car, none of the ambulances had satnav; the staff were relying on dog-eared and out-of-date A to Z's and were frequently taking wrong turnings or getting lost altogether.

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Anonymous Coward

ITS NOT A NON STORY...

to the family whose child died, its not a non story to my family who had to wait 87 minutes for an ambulance, its not a non story to 100 of other people in this situation.

It's not about blame, its not about compensation,

BUT IT IS ABOUT making sure it does not happen again.

When people used maps they could at least read them, a satnav can fail but a paper map does not switch off. There should not be a total reliance on something that can fail however small the risk.

Keep your prattish sanctimonious comments to yourself you obviously have no children or you would not have been so flippant with your comments.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ITS NOT A NON STORY...

Downvotes I see by people who's most important decision at their non job place of work is whether to have a cheese sandwich or ham sandwich, probably in their late 30's , then goes home and sits in the bedroom waiting for mommy to make the tea, then returns to the room to sit in semi darkness playing on-line games till the early hours.

Judging by the comments on this article there are a few of them on here.

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Re: ITS NOT A NON STORY...

" BUT IT IS ABOUT making sure it does not happen again"

How exactly?

I ask this during the lunch break of my very real and valid job, having spent 15 years gaining experience, training and working my way up the ladder to the point where I now earn a nice tidy salary thankyou very much, before I go home this evening to the house that I own with my wife, who I've been with for 13 years, and my 5 month old Daughter.

This is a non story because the entirety of it is that the ambulance took 10 minutes longer than someone who knew the area would have taken to get there. And it very clearly states in the story that paramedics were already on the scene, and that the slightly later arrival of the ambulance made NO DIFFERENCE to whether the kid would have died or not.

I can also guarantee with 100% certainty that the ambulance will have carried paper maps as well as a satnav, and also that if they had had no satnav it would have taken almost as long to get there because they would have had to thumb through the a-z to find the place.

And then when the kid died anyway, that same mother (and you) would have been saying that it is a travesty that they had no satnav on board.

I feel for the mother, I really do, but this is Daily Mail territory, and most people who frequent ElReg have more intelligence than Daily Fail readers and actually QUESTION the bullshit they try to feed us.

Don't misinterpret people questioning the the interpretation of the facts with people who don't care.

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Anonymous Coward

Did the delay cause the death?

Nothing in the article says the delay caused the death.

How long did it take the paramedic to arrive? Not mentioned.

Would the child have died any way? Not all heart failures are survivable.

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Re: Did the delay cause the death?

The paramedic arrive in less than eight minutes according to the original Daily Mail version of the story.

There was also a GP present before the ambulance arrived, which seems odd to me. It doesn't seem to me that the delay made any difference. Rapid Response vehicles are used as they can reach the scene faster than a larger vehicle, and are well-equipped.

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What was the fault?

Did it send them the wrong way, did it not recognise the address etc?

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IT Angle

Non IT points here

Whilst I sympathise with her loss, I agree the blame game is being played here. On a non-IT note, how much gear to ambulance responders have? A friend of mine who had a heart attack at home was successfully treated and stablised by a responder car, they serve their purpose well.

<footnote:personal>

I also get annoyed at these women who have large numbers of kids. If she (when not in an unfit state to) and her partner are working to support their family, fine, but as a taxpayer I object to supporting any that are being supported by the state. Some religions believe offspring are a gift, I consider a large family to be something you earn and only have if you can support them all properly.

</footnote:personal>

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Re: Non IT points here

You should stick to reading the Daily Mail - they are more amenable to your bash the poor rhetoric. There is nothing in this article that says she can't look after her children, and I wasn't aware of any laws that restrict the size of a family on the statute books.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Non IT points here

If it's blame people want, then look to the source of the poor kids DNA.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Non IT points here

Wow, at the time of posting 16 upvotes against 10 downvotes to your smug, sexist drivel. Why is this sort of thing upvoted at all?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Non IT points here

A prat, spouting drivel.

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Also, the article doesn't say what the glitch was. Were the driving around the area in circles looking for the address because the satnav directed them to the wrong place, or did the satnav fail completely? Was the problem caused by hardware, software or just streets missing from the map?

If they were sat at the side of the road and the unit said it couldn't get a signal or something like that, perhaps that would be a good time to pick up a map. But if the unit says "you have arrived at your destination" and they were looking at a field (or didn't know it wasn't working until it was too late), then what else could they do?

Very sorry for the family though and I don't, to a point, blame them for wanting to take their anger out on anything they can.

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Unhappy

"Very sorry for the family though and I don't, to a point, blame them for wanting to take their anger out on anything they can."

Just incase it's not entirely clear from my post, I mean I wouldn't expect a family in this situation to be thinking rationally, not that the ambulance service deserve to be the subject of the families anger. I really feel for the ambulance crew here, this must have been awful for them too.

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Boffin

What if...?

Tragic story, but some objectivity is needed by the media here. I imagine the mothers anguish and condemnation would have been far greater if the story had been: Boy died because ambulance driver didn't trust the satnav and wasted valuable time trying to read a map and asking locals for directions.

Lets not forget that maps can become out-of date quickly, pages tear or fade and sometimes the particular road you need is split between page 21 and 56 meaning you have to flick back and forth - that's if your destination doesn't lie on the border of the district mapped and therefore lies just off the page somewhere.

I imagine the number of lives saved by satnav is far greater than those in the times before we had GPS.

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Stop

On the positive side...

She was expecting her ninth child? It was no surprise that a quick Google search produced an image of her wearing a crucifix, as religious opposition to contraception is a common factor in UK households with burgeoning child populations. The image also portrayed a woman that is financially deprived, suggesting that her role in life as a human incubator is funded primarily (or exclusively) by the taxpayer and an overly generous benefits system. As if that wasn't bad enough, she is neither married nor was there any mention of the father in the article. Brilliant.

Just a century ago her lifestyle would have been shunned by society, yet now we see her being paid for her story and held up as someone to pity. What a sick society we live in.

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Stop

Re: On the positive side...

Feel better after that do you? I doubt that the timely arrival of the ambulance would have helped, but the fact that she has eight other children is entirely irrelevant. Sadly this woman's chronically ill son died slowly in front of her, and you feel it's appropriate to have a tirade about her presumed circumstances?

Speaking as an atheist I find your insensitivity, attack on her presumed religious convictions and lack of empathy disturbing.

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Meh

Re: Re: On the positive side...

My post had nothing to do with making me "feel better". Rather, it was a condemnation of her lifestyle. In the Daily Mail article there was no reference - in text or picture - to a boyfriend or father of her child(ren) and she was referred to as 'Ms', so clearly she is unmarried. She had eight children and was pregnant with a ninth, making it unlikely that she has a job. It's possible that her family has wealth and is supporting her financially, though the photograph does not support such a conclusion. The likelihood is that she is living off benefits, funded by the taxpayer. As for my "attack" on her religious convictions - it is well known that a large percentage of Christians oppose contraception and it is not far-fetched to assume, given the number of children that she has, that this was a precipitating factor . Admittedly that is conjecture but I never portrayed it otherwise.

You may attack my lack of empathy but it's hard to understate the impact that her lifestyle has upon society. Should we ignore the ills of society for fear of offending those perpetrating them? Without criticism of such behaviour we risk - as a society - condoning it. She wears a religious artifact yet fails to uphold even the basic tenets of her faith. Does that not open her to criticism?

I do not seek to diminish her loss, nor imply that her loss is of any less import than that of anyone else. My criticism relates to her circumstances. Had she wished to avoid judgement she could have grieved in private, instead of having her face plastered all over one of the largest UK news publications.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: On the positive side...

There was no positive side. There were a whole bunch of pompous assertions based on one photograph, which you used as an excuse to air your prejudices.

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Thumb Down

Re: On the positive side...

You're right. What kind of society is this, where we don't seek to punish children for the heinous crime of being born to poor parents?

Anyone claiming that state benefits are "overly generous" should be forced to live on them for a year. Preferably on some shitty sink estate.

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WTF?

Re: Re: Re: On the positive side...

"she was referred to as 'Ms', so clearly she is unmarried"

I'll tell that to my wife and the three other married women I know who prefer to be known as Ms.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: On the positive side...

>>She wears a religious artifact yet fails to uphold even the basic tenets of her faith. Does that not open her to criticism?<<

What are you on about? You bash her for not using contraceptives due to her religious convictions (entirely your conjecture BTW) and then criticise her for not upholding her faith. Clearly your rant is now completely out of control.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: On the positive side...

Jonas Taylor#

An even bigger prat, obviously lacking in empathy, obviously has no children, obviously aged 15 because only a hormonal teenage boy could come out with a comment as crass as yours.

Actually I think the teenager would be more mature!

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8 minutes

Is it too much to expect a (presumably) full time ambulance driver to know how to get anywhere within 8 minutes without a bloody map?

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Rob
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Go

Re: 8 minutes

Depends on whether the map is going to alert you to any traffic conditions on the way, also might be useful if the map shouted directions whilst trying to drive a few tons of death at high speeds through populated areas, I suppose the other ambulance personnel could read the map on the way, but if it were me I'd prefer them to be looking out for people that get rabbit syndrome when they see flashing blue lights and freeze in the wrong place.

Just some suggestions as to why a satnav might be better in this situation.

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Yes

Yes, it is too much to expect.

I worked for a little while locating lost/hard-to-find properties for Thames Water. Even with an address and a description of the property, it's frequently very hard to find an actual place. If you look at how many addresses are within 8 minutes driving (at blue-lights speed) you'd be surprised - and I'm pretty sure you'd never learn every single address.

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WTF?

Re: 8 minutes

> Is it too much to expect a (presumably) full time ambulance driver to know how to get

> anywhere within 8 minutes without a bloody map?

Yes, I'd say so. There are almost certainly addresses in the town I grew up in that I couldn't find without looking at a map, and 8 minutes from there (Marlborough, Wiltshire) would include a lot of tiny villages in the country.

It's definitely true of the town I live in now.

Or did you mean *with* a map?

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Re: 8 minutes

Yes, IMO it is too much to ask ambulance drivers to know every street in an area. The 8 minute goal will be from the place the ambulance happens to be on that particular day - the next day the ambulance crew might be in a different location, so the area they would need to know is far bigger than a 5 mile or so radius (and there are a heck of a lot of streets in an urban 10 mile diameter circle). I would much prefer the crew spending their training time learning life-saving medical techniques than spending months learning "the knowlege" like a London taxi driver.

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Anonymous Coward

Probably a postcode issue

I would guess 99% of people (and that would include the emergency services) use postcodes to enter the destination. Which is fine and dandy for trivial use, but too variable for situations of life or death. Even in urban settings, postcode centroids can cause delays. My one being an example. I live in SW Brum. There is a college near me whose postcode leads drivers to my front door - in a cul-de-sac 100m (but a 3 minute drive) from the college. Things get worse when you go rural - some centroids in Norfolk are 7 miles long.

Surely there is a sound commercial case for someone producing a 5m resolution database of UK addresses ? It would improve SatNavving, and also help couriers, and other companies ?

However,don't ask the Royal Mail. They thought they could charge 4x the price of the 100m-resolution database, as a 10m database, by simply adding a 0 to the coordinates.

ISTR Scotland is already mapped to 10m resolution.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Probably a postcode issue

There is a 1m resolution database of the UK, I use it on my phone and some emergency services also use it - in fact the GPS is the only thing that is less accurate as that is generally only down to 2 or 3 metres. It's called a 10 figure Grid Reference. Always accurate and rarely changes (only when there's a large seismic shift).

The problem is that callers don't usually know the 10 fig grid reference of their property so they have to use their postcode. However if they do have a house number then the resolution is pretty good and within the 10m that you quote.

If however you live in a rural area then I would suggest you learn the grid-ref for your house and keep it by the phone (8 figures will do) and read it out to the emergency services when you call.

If you regularly go on the hill get a decent app that will give you an accurate grid reference (most are way out, btw) and quote that to the Search and rescue services via the police if you need help.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Probably a postcode issue

It's interesting you mention using the house number along with the postcode to get better accuracy. Having worked in ambulance control (Wilsthire) many years ago, one of the largest problems we had (and emergency services in general still have) is people who take the house number off of their property and give it a name instead.

So the ambulance would turn up to a long street with perhaps 100+ houses on, and the address given is "Orchard View, Some Street, Some Town". So they have to crawl along the road, reading each an every house name, which in the dark can take many minutes. When they finally find the property, nine times out of 10 they discover that it actually has a house number and the properties on the street go 174, 175, 176, Orchard View, 178, 179 etc. Some people think it makes the property seem grander and them somehow of higher status if their home has a name rather than a number. This seems especially prevalent in rural areas where village residents play oneupmanship with their neighbours.

Seriously, cut out the pomposity and always give you house number when calling the emergency services (or even when giving your delivery address, your postie will thank you for it!).

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FAIL

Re: Re: Re: Probably a postcode issue

I would love to give people my house number. Unfortunately I don't have one, nor a street name, despite the fact that I live in an urban area. And you can't even see my house from my postcode centre about 200 yards away.

When the Fire Brigade came round to do a safety check, I gave them a 10 digit ref, and they still had to phone me and ask.

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Anonymous Coward

Without knowing

what the problem actually was everything is speculation. The articule states that the rapid response unit was already on the scene. If they were there their sipura radio unit would acknowledge that (even more so if the technician is a lone worker) and the actual coordinates would also be send back to their command and control system. That is then instantly shared with the other services that are due to arrive on the scene.

The real challenge here is that the techicians that arrive on the scene first are not trained paramedics. They are not trained nor authorised to perform manay of the procedures. it is a change to thank our previous government for with their st target

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Anonymous Coward

The Knowledge

Lets be honest, SatNav is unreliable and Maps are hard to handle (especially if you're driving at 60 in a 30 zone to attend an emergency).

Perhaps Emergency responsders should take an exam like the famous Knowlegde of the london cabbies.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Knowledge

I'd rather that my emergency responders filled their brane up with medical knowledge, rather than taking a course (which lasts years, BTW) in finding locations. The knowledge isn't designed to be used at speed either, I strongly suspect that when you're concentrating on driving very fast in a life and death situation that "the knowledge" will go out of the window.

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Re: The Knowledge

Well, a fair few cabs I been in (especially ones in the early hours) had used Sat Nav, and that's in a black cab from Brixton to Kilburn.

I wouldn't expect ambulance drivers to know every area, even if they'd been doing the job for years. I guess merging hospitals to cover ever increasing areas doesn't help either, West Midlands Ambulance Service is the second largest service which, the NHS site says, serves a population of about 5.4 million who live in Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Coventry, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and the Birmingham and Black Country conurbation.

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds like...

...with such fail in SatNav technology it must be yet another "Tom Tom" fail

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Silver badge

There is probably some truth here...

Yet its most likely not SatNav which is to blame, but the operators of said ambulance.

Note; I'm not saying they are to blame, only that its possible. Here in Holland we've had a few of these issues as well. Yet that turned out to be a combination; some ambulances weren't using the most up to date maps, as such some streets and locations couldn't be easily dealt with. In those cases I'd say the ambulances (at least the people maintaining them) are to blame.

However, if that's the case here as well is something I obviously don't know.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is probably some truth here...

"Yet its most likely not SatNav which is to blame, but the operators of said ambulance."

Do you mean the organisation or the crew?

Speaking as the latter, I'm not responsible for the software on any systems in the vehicle and its a disciplinary matter for me to tamper with them, Would you let any normal user into the guts of your employer's systems?

If you mean the former, and this also relates to the issue recently affectint the LAS in another story, we are somewhat at the mercy of the industries whose products we buy. How often do we read of serious bugs in the software from companies like say Microsoft or Apple who have the resources to spend on getting things right? I'm not meaning to have a go at them in particular but do you then blame consumers affected by those bugs? In the same way we have to take a certain amount on trust from vendors. Services generally do their best with the resources (including knowledge, skills, budget etc) they have available to them but are not generally in the business of IT. Also if we want something better, its not like prices can be put up is it?

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Silver badge

24 minutes late, 8 minute response time

Try living in the country in a depopulated place. Even driving like a nutter it'll take you more than eight minutes to reach the nearest hospital, and call-out times in the order of 20-30 minutes are apparently the norm (though I've not had to test this). Maybe this is why more and more supermarkets and mayors are getting their own defibs, get something done while waiting for the pros. But if you're in your own house... well, it's a real good idea to know useful first aid (and I don't mean how to apply plasters).

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Anonymous Coward

No "Sat-Nav" fitted

We're discussing WMAS and the news report that a "Sat-Nav" fault caused the delay.

Let' recap and correct some wrong assumptions made by some posting on here.

1. "Sipura radio.... co-ordinates".... WMAS, like most other ambulance trusts - at that time - did not use the GPS data available from the Sepura (note correct spelling) handportables, and mobile radio sets. The destination of that data is set in the radio config, and at that time, the national model had it pointing to 0.0.0.0 ie: null.

2. "Wrong postcode"..... The command and control system sends co-ordinates to the "Mobile Data Terminal" in the vehicle, not post codes. The maps in the "CAD" are up-to-date Ordnance Survey maps which are regularly updated.

3. "Sat-Nav"..... WMAS use the Terrafix TVC3000 Mobile Data Terminal system. This is a touch-screen windows based system with it's own built in mapping and navigation system, not a Sat-Nav. No sucky on the windscreen £50 from Halfords jobby, £2500 of kit. Terrafix are famed for their GPS location services and are used by military and emergency services in many areas.

The TVC3000's mapping system is, in my mind, woeful. The map is always "North", and does not rotate to steer direction, which can make it confusing to read, especially if you are a solo operator. It has been known to mis-direct vehicles due to bugs in the software. Something they will strongly deny.

Since this case, WMAS have been rolling out a mapping upgrade to their vehicles, which includes a "steer direction" widget, though the map stays planted "north is up", it puts a little box on the screen which shows arrows of your next move.

I post this as an Anonymous Coward because I know too much, and I'd like it to stay that way!

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